Ivory Coast issues warrant for Gbagbo youth leader

Fri Jul 1, 2011 4:32pm GMT
 

* Goude fled Ivory Coast after the fall of Gbagbo

* "Young Patriots" accused of tribal militia killings

By Tim Cocks

ABIDJAN, July 1 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for the leader of former president Laurent Gbagbo's youth militia, Charles Ble Goude, accused of inciting ethnic violence and attacks on U.N. staff.

Warrants were also issued for Gbagbo's government spokesman during the crisis Ahoua Don Mello, ex-industry minister Philippe Attey and his ambassador to Israel, Raymond Koudou Kessie, the public prosecutor said on Friday.

Charges against them and 21 others currently in detention included "infractions against the security (and) ... authority of the state, forming of armed gangs, rebellion, abuse of office, tribalism and xenophobia," public prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi told a news conference in Abidjan.

"For many weeks, people incited hatred and xenophobia and committed all kinds of atrocities," the prosecutor said.

Goude was a key figure in Gbagbo's bid to remain in power despite losing a U.N.-certified election to current President Alassane Ouattara in November, which triggered a conflict in which at least 3,000 people were killed.

He mobilised Gbagbo's "Young Patriots" to set up roadblocks all over the country to counter an insurgency. Many of them were armed with machetes, clubs and AK-47s.

Pro-Gbagbo youths killed a number of Ouattara's supporters and foreign West African nationals, some by burning them to death, according to cases documented by human rights groups.

Gbagbo was ousted in April by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French troops and captured along with a number of his aides; but Goude escaped and is believed to be in neighbouring Ghana.

The former president is currently detained in northern Ivory Coast awaiting trial by Ivorian courts for alleged war crimes and corruption, embezzlement and other alleged economic crimes, as is his wife, Simone, and several close aides.

Fifteen aides are detained in Abidjan, including former prime minister Gilbert Ake, finance minister Desire Dallo and foreign affairs minister Alcide Djedje.

A delegation from the International Criminal Court is in Ivory Coast to examine the possibility of opening an investigation into the worst crimes committed during the war.

Goude's fervent calls to defend Ivory Coast against "foreigners" at rallies were often followed by a spate of militia killings of members of Ouattara's northern Dioula tribe, human rights groups said.

Nine Gbagbo officials or gunmen have been arrested for the torture and killing of two French citizens, a Beninois and a Malaysian kidnapped from the Abidjan Novotel on April 4.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks; editing b y Ralph Boulton)

(For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/)

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